Is the US continuing their support for Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War solely so that they can continue to sell them weapons?

Leaked documents reveal Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to certify continued support of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War came after emails warned him cutting off of support would negatively affect U.S. arms sales.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story on Thursday citing a classified memo and sources close to the decision.

Failure to Certify Will Negatively Affect Arms Sales

According to the Journal, most senior officials at the State Department urged Pompeo to reject certification “due to a lack of progress on mitigating civilian casualties.”  They argued certification would “provide no incentive for Saudi leadership to take our diplomatic messaging seriously” and “damage the Department’s credibility with Congress.”

However, a memo from the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs said, according to the Wall Street Journal, that “lack of certification will negatively impact pending arms transfers” and that “failure to certify may also negatively impact future foreign military sales and direct commercial sales to the region.”

Pompeo certified last week that Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi were reportedly doing everything they could to avoid civilian casualties and agreed to continue providing assistance to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also backed Pompeo’s decision.

The certification means the U.S. will continue to aid the coalition by selling them arms, refueling jets and identify Houthi targets to strike.

Pompeo said the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are “undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.”

A State Department official declined to comment on the leaked documents but said the U.S. government was continuing to pressure their allies to improve humanitarian measures.

“While our Saudi and Emirati partners are making progress on these fronts, we are continuing discussions with them on additional steps they can take to address the humanitarian situation, advance the political track in cooperation with the UN Special Envoy’s efforts, and ensure that their military campaign complies with the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law,” the official said in a statement.

Yemeni Civilians Caught in the Crosshairs

Meanwhile, the United Nations has said the Saudi coalition was responsible for most of the 16,700 civilians killed or injured in the Yemen War over the last three years. On Friday, the U.N. released a statement calling for all parties in Yemen to halt military action as the humanitarian situation in Yemen was rapidly deteriorating.

“It is far from clear that the recent intensification of fighting is producing any winners,” Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the Security Council on Friday.

“It is, though, abundantly clear, all too abundantly clear, who the losers are: millions of Yemenis civilians, most of them women and children, whose lives are right on the line.”

 

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